Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Math professor Elizabeth Munch awarded NSF grant for research on complex data analysis

The National Science Foundation awarded Professor Elizabeth Munch of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics $179,000 for her project, “Collaborative Research: A Unified Framework for the Investigation of Time Series Using Topological Data Analysis.”

Munch’s project seeks to advance knowledge in three important areas of mathematics:

  • Time series analysis – extracting meaning from data points collected at equally spaced time intervals to predict future values. Examples include economic forecasting and quality control.
  • Dynamical systems – mathematical functions that represent the evolution of a variable over time, such as the the swinging of a pendulum.
  • Applied topology – the branch of mathematics that studies of the shape of data.

Munch aims to develop an approach to analyzing complex data sets that utilizes persistent homology, a tool from the newly emergent field of topological data analysis which quantifies the shape of a data set. The end result will be a procedure that is systematic and reliable, and less-prone to user error. Munch’s research will serve as a foundation for improving our understanding and analysis tools in many areas of science and engineering.

The project includes an educational outreach component, in which Munch and her collaborators will engage high school, college, and graduate students in collecting and visualizing data using sensors and oscilloscopes. This will empower the students to use scientific tools to examine their environment and will foster their interest in careers in science and engineering. The investigators will also make the developed code, experiments, and class material available online so that researchers, educators, practitioners, and students can freely use them. 

Munch received her Ph.D. in mathematics from Duke University, and joined the faculty of UAlbany’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics in 2014 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for Mathematics and Its Applications at the University of Minnesota. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses, and her courses include statistics, graph theory, modern computing for mathematicians, and applied topology.

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